Friday, June 28, 2013

I can't sleep!

Long ago a woman in her mid-50s warned me that sleeping all night becomes difficult as we age. I just said "uh huh" and my brain and eyes glossed over, utterly unable to relate to what she was saying.

Now, years later, sleeplessness has become my best friend, or adversary, depending on my mind-set and what hour of the night it is. Lately, I wake up around 2:30 a.m. If I squint my eyes or only open one part way on the way in to pee, I can go back to bed and fall asleep again. If I decide to try to read, one usually sure-fire, non-narcotic way for me to fall asleeep, well, half the time now it doesn't work - both eyes gradually open all the way, like a blind on a window being slowly lifted. My mind becomes involved with the book and my lids don't get heavy until anywhere from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. I've found I can actually sleep holding the book open in front of my face, until my hand gives way and the book drops with a thud to the bed or the floor, waking me up with a jolt. I'l usually pick the book up and read a little longer, then play the same game with my eyelids. Eventually I'll put the book away and if I'm lucky I'll sleep. But sometimes I don't, and if I do too many physical things before I finally give up, the game repeats itself.

Twitchy legs keep me awake, too. I'll roll and thrash and make artful designs with the bedcovers before waking up enough to do anything about it, "it" being RLS - Restless Leg Syndrome. Funny phenomenon...the legs just act like they're trying to escape or something, walk away. They don't want anything to do with the rest of the body and the frustration exhibits itself as this restless leg business. There's some good Hyland's homeopathic pills called "Restless Leg" that work very well. Lately, though, I've been "hardening" myself up to a tighter budget, as well as trying to adhere to the "living small" lifetstyle, so a banana is a must-have every day.

Sometimes I'll amaze myself and stay awake all night, or get by on 2-3 hours of sleep. Used to be that would make for a nightmarish work day hours later, dressing in clashing clothes, wishing I liked coffee (can't stand the stuff), major brain fog, fearfully focused on driving, sunglasses guarding bloodshot eyes. Once at work, my hands would spend much of the day clenched on my cheeks, supporting my head, desperately trying to appear as if I'm seriously absorbed in the report I've carefully spread out on my desk.

Nowadays, I can often get up and get going on very few hours of sleep, live the day without my eyeballs rolling back in my head, and actually be rational. Sometimes, though, I go through waves of too many brutal sleepless nights in a row and I give up all control. There's no comparing the total deliciousness of just letting go, crawling into bed at a bizarre time of night anywhere from 6pm to 9pm, letting go, checking out to some wondrous peaceful valley, and really not giving a rat's ass whether I sleep all night or not.....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Archival Body

I had that wicked flu twice this past winter - Part I came with a sore throat that felt like someone had scraped it with scissors, and no cough; and a month later, Part II with no sore throat but the full-blown, near-retching cough that made me long for new lungs. I was somewhat out of it for 15 days each time, and during two weeks of recovery, that I couldn't hardly eat or relate to bills/creditors, laundry or staying on top of the stacks of paperwork that share my space, one of which is my medical history, or what I call my Body Archive

I've been requesting and keeping copies of many if not most of my lab results for years, even one from 1974, as well as mammogram and pap smear results, and once in a while I'll request a copy of chart notes. I also try to keep a business card of each medical professional I've seen and one copy of the literature that comes with each prescription I get. How sick is that? Ahem....

I've been told by docs in the last five years that I'm fairly healthy, even though I have a coupla very interesting issues. I take lots of supplements, eat pretty good and healthy except when I am in denial, laugh as much and often as possible, can still bend and touch the floor, do a ragged cartwheel, walk a bit, hike sometimes, ride a bike sometimes, pretzel myself when and if I do yoga (no down dogs, though), lug around big bags of potting soil, compost and hay bales, move my own mid-size furniture, and try and wrestle with my teenage grandsons. I can no longer pin them down and have to beg them to "Go easy!" when we do wrestle. They think it's hilarious...

I carry a hard copy folded up in my wallet of a summary of my medical info that I created and maintain because I get really tired of filling in the same old stuff on medical forms - current medicines and supplements, strengths and how many and when; allergies and other issues; current medical diagnoses; family history; surgery history...etc etc ad nauseum - so that when I register at a new doc's and come to all those related blanks, I just write "see attached" and ask to have a copy made for my file. Most of the intake people love it, but once in a while some stickler office will make me fill in the blanks, which makes my normally very good blood pressure go up. 

It's not like I didn't have anything better to do when I started this archive of my body. I don't know what compelled me, maybe because I've moved a lot and this is my way of feeling grounded. And maybe this info will help if and when my body is parted out. My driver's license marks me as a donor...I vaguely remember saying something to my family about that decision. Think about it...when us donors die, what do the doctors, hospitals, med students, professors, scientists and researchers have except a body they know little or nothing about as it quietly spreads open under their sharp scalpels, revealing an unknown story and a lot of speculation...? Yeah, sometimes they know a lot, but I think a lot less than what they find when they open us up. I'm an info freak, I believe body archives are a good thing.

It also gives me a picture of the way my body has progressed over the years, and helps me make some fairly certain assumptions about my own health. I think we are mass programmed to not trust ourselves, our capabilities, our relationship with our body (and mind and spirit), and our intuition, which has created a whole lot of "sheeple." For instance, I can tell looking at my Body Archive that the "high cholesterol" indication on labs goes back for years and years and is really fairly normal for me. My Mom says she has the same thing.

I'm hoping some medico will read and study all this paperwork that I've held onto and dragged around in my adult life during multiple moves. I also hope they are studying Western and Eastern/alternative medicines, too. 

I want the end value of my obsession and creation of a Body Archive to be beneficial to one or more other bodies. All I ask is that when they're done, burn what's left (make damn sure I'm dead first) and fling half of it into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Big Island and put a wee bit in a sealed glass vial for whoever wants it. Then put the other half in a biodegradable container, add soil and other nutrients, and plant a tree. Please.


As a journalist, I've interviewed hundreds of people, and sometimes it's a hard dig to get people to talk about themselves. However, most people make interviewing a joy. 

I’m totally addicted to watching the light come on in their eyes when they fully realize the bottom-line purpose of my mission – that it’s OK to blossom and tell me how they got to be a special flower in an endless field of a million varieties.